A jury will be selected this week in the trial of a man facing first-degree murder charges in the death of his 79-year-old uncle, whose body was found hidden underneath an apartment staircase in Claxton in 2012, authorities said.
Jury selection in the trial of Norman Lee Follis Jr., 52, is scheduled for Wednesday through Friday this week, and the trial is scheduled to continue on Monday, May 9, in Anderson County Criminal and Circuit Court in Clinton. Three days have been scheduled for the trial next week, although court officials said it’s possible that more time could be needed.
The state is seeking the death penalty against Follis and Tammy Sue Chapman, 47, who has also been charged with first-degree murder. The pair is accused of killing Sammie J. Adams, 79, who was Follis’ uncle, sometime between December 5, 2011, and January 24, 2012. Adams’ body was found under a stairwell in his home after friends and neighbors reported that they hadn’t seen him in a while, Anderson County District Attorney General Dave Clark said in an August 2014 press release.
Adams’ age—he was over 70—was an aggravating factor leading to the death penalty request, Clark said.
It’s the first death penalty case in Anderson County in decades. Deputy District Attorney General Tony Craighead and Assistant DA Emily Abbott will prosecute the case.
Follis is represented by defense attorneys Mart S. Cizek and Wesley D. Stone.
Follis and Chapman were indicted by a grand jury on the first-degree murder charge in February 2014. They had both been previously charged with first-degree murder.
There could be three death penalty trials this year: the two for Follis and Chapman and one for Valerie Stenson, who has been charged in the death of her toddler granddaughter, Manhattan Inman.
Besides first-degree murder, Follis and Chapman are facing additional charges. Their February 2014 indictments alleged the couple obtained a 1997 Mercury Marquis owned by Adams, as well as the keys to his home, without his permission. Follis will also be facing charges of property theft over $1,000 and forgery in his trial this week and next.
A trial for Chapman has been scheduled starting August 9. Besides first-degree murder, her charges include property theft over $1,000 and being an accessory after the fact.
Adams’ body was allegedly found underneath an apartment staircase on Patt Lane, which is off Raccoon Valley Road across Clinton Highway from Edgemoor Road.
Clark said the state has requested the death penalty only one other time in Anderson County (the Seventh District) in recent memory. A trial in that case, the Valerie Stenson case, is scheduled to start September 21.
Authorities have alleged that Manhattan Inman, who was 18 months old and Stenson’s granddaughter, was found dead in a home on Teller Village Lane in Oak Ridge on April 17, 2011.
The Anderson County Grand Jury indicted Stenson for first-degree murder and four counts of aggravated child abuse and neglect in 2012. Later, she was indicted on nine more counts of aggravated child abuse, aggravated child neglect, and aggravated child endangerment in cases involving three other children.
Clark earlier said that aggravating circumstances in that murder case included:
- It was committed against someone younger than 12 by someone older than 18.
- It was especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel “in that it involved torture or serious physical abuse beyond that necessary to produce death.”
Follis, Chapman, and Stenson all remain jailed in the Anderson County Detention Facility in Clinton.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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